The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

I’ve read a few Julian Barnes books over the years (including one as a teenager, which was way too complicated for my young brain!), so I thought I’d give this one a go. Especially as it won the Booker Prize in 2011. That’s got to be good, hasn’t it?

It’s a simple story (and VERY short at just 150 pages) of a middle-aged man trying to piece together part of his past.

It starts in the 1970s with the man and his friends being typical clever teenage boys – trying to outdo each other and their teachers with their wit and intelligence. This part reminds me of Jonathan Coe’s The Rotters Club, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and even Sebastian Faulks’ Engleby.

The central character, Tony, narrates the story and at times says that he thinks that’s how it happened, that’s certainly how he remembered it…

About a third of the book is devoted to Tony’s teenage years, then the story jumps forward to him as a retired, divorced man, suddenly forced to piece together his memories, which he realises are somewhat lacking.

This is a beautiful, moving and well-written story. If you’re afraid of literature, don’t be put off by the Booker Prize thing, it’s not heavy going at all.  It is an amazing read and I would advise anyone to give it a go.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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5 Comments

  1. Reward of merit is not life’s business”

    Many days after reading this book, my mind still resonates with this quote. This book tells a story which may not be great but the soul of the book stays with you. It deals with a lot more than what meets the eye. The characters are deep and the protagonist might force you to rethink many events of your past. After reading this book, I reflected back multiple times on how I have retold and relived my stories. And how the way the truth might be completely different from the version I think I know.

    The style and flow of the book is simply superb. It’s difficult not to admire Adrian and his perspective of life. Again, the story may not be a crowd puller or the kind of the one you would expect with the narration of this level. But every page is worth the time spent in absorbing the depth of each sentence. Most of the verses are emotionally poignant sending the reader into a small introspective journey. It opens our eyes to the fact that the everyday events we take for granted somehow assume so much importance in the bigger picture.

    The book drives the point that what we remember from our memories is just our version of the events and there might be more to the whole story. The journey of knowing protagonist’s memories, perceptions of life and the way they change when he encounters the truth is an enriching one. The book is more than just 150 pages of a story; it’s also a lens our lives can use at some point or other.

    A must read for all those who are looking for a different kind of book which entertains and at the same time is not shallow.

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  2. A small yet extremely powerful book, it rightfully deserves the Booker. I started reading this book and was soon wondering as to where the story is eventually going. However , as the book progressed , I was rewarded with the satisfaction of having read something that will stay with me for a very long time. In all possible senses, the book does justice to the title. In the end , the main protagonist does feel the sense of everything ending.

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  3. Thanks very much for your comments, Hindi Jokes and CashFund – it’s nice to read comments from people who have obviously spent a lot of time reading the book and thinking about it. Appreciate you taking the time.

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